The NFL pre-season games are almost upon us with the regular season not far behind. If you’re a fantasy football fan, that means it’s time to join a league (if you haven’t already), research and plan your draft choices, and pick the apps that you’ll use over the course of the season to track all of your key player and team stats as well as to manage your team.
The right tools can make or break a successful season. Here are some of the best apps out there for iOS and Android that can help you keep track of everything and manage your team’s lineup on the go.
Let’s start by breaking down the types of tools that help ensure fantasy success over the course of the season. There are the apps that let you manage your team – shift your starting lineup, drop players and add free agents, propose trades, and engage in some trash talk with your competitors. Then there are apps that keep you plugged into all the NFL action over the course of season. There’s also a great range of apps to help you research and plan your draft choices, which I’ll be taking a look at next week.
Fantasy Team Management Apps
The vast majority of us play in online leagues and there are a few major fantasy sites that host leagues. The top online fantasy hosts include the NFL, ESPN, Yahoo, My Fantasy League, CBS Sports, and Fox Sports.
Each site has a slightly different feel, but the basic features are pretty similar across all of them. With the exception of CBS Sports and Fox Sports, each site offers its own mobile app that you can use to track your team in real-time as well as to make changes to your lineup. The features available in these apps varies from one site to another. A couple of third-party apps are also available that can manage teams hosted by these sites.
CBS Sports doesn’t offer a mobile app that you can use to manage your fantasy team(s). Similarly, Fox Sports doesn’t offer native mobile apps, but it does offer a mobile-formatted web-app.
If you haven’t yet joined (or created) a league and you expect to be managing your team(s) primarily from your mobile device (iPhone, iPad, Android handset or tablet), you may want to consider the available apps and features in choosing a site and league.
Here’s a quick breakdown of what the apps for each site offer:
- NFL.com (Phone and tablet optimized) – includes live scoring, set/manage lineup, player transactions (add/drop/trade), player news, support for multiple teams (Android | iPhone/iPad)
- ESPN (Phone optimized) – includes live scoring, set/manage lineup, player transactions (add/drop/trade), player news with customized push notifications, support for multiple teams (Android | iPhone/iPad)
- Yahoo (Phone and tablet optimized) – includes live scoring, set/manage lineup, player transactions (add/drop/trade), player news, support for multiple teams (Android | iPhone/iPad)
- My Fantasy League (Phone and tablet optimized) – includes live scoring, set/manage lineup, player transactions (add/drop/trade), player news, support for multiple teams, mobile drafting, league message boards and polls (Android | iPhone/iPad)
In addition to the official fantasy apps from each site, Fantasy Monster Pro is an app that allows you to manage fantasy teams for leagues hosted by both ESPN and Yahoo. It is available in separate phone (Android | iPhone) and iPad versions and includes live scoring, lineup management, player transactions (add/drop/trade), player news, support for multiple teams, and league message boards. It also supports a range of fantasy sports beyond football including basketball (NBA), hockey (NHL), and baseball (MLB). If you’re just looking for a fantasy football app, a phone-only version called Fantasy Football ’12 – for Yahoo/ESPN is also available (Android | iPhone)
Similarly, Phonetasy Football, which is phone and tablet optimized (Android | iPhone/iPad), provides the ability to manage Yahoo teams using a custom interface that also includes robust news and information about players and your team’s lineup. Additional information features of this subscription-based app ($0.99/month) include breaking news, season and weekly player rankings tied to your team/league, weekly matchup breakdowns, stats and weather tracking, strength of scheduled games, and waver monitoring.
Player and Team Information Apps
Each site that hosts fantasy leagues offers users snapshots of player information and projections for how each player is expected to perform in an upcoming game. That’s useful information, particularly when you consider that the projections are based on each league’s scoring rules, but it’s typically very thin slices of data. If you want to get a broader picture, like how the matchup of a given game is likely to impact a specific player on your team, you’ll want a good deal more news and/or advice.
Let’s break down the options for that in-depth news into two categories – one that focuses on fantasy-specific news apps and another that contains apps that are great for any football fan because they help your follow the NFL season overall as well as track your favorite teams.
- Rotoworld Fantasy News (Phone and tablet optimized) – This app is an excellent all around fantasy sports resource that provides live play-by-play scoring and news as well as analysis, player information searching, and customizable watch lists. In addition to fantasy football, information is available for these additional sports/leagues: basketball (NBA), hockey (NHL), baseball (MLB), NASCAR, and golf. (Android | iPhone/iPad)
- Fantasy Football News and Player Updater (iPhone and iPad only) – This app is designed to provide you quick and to the point advice on specific players. If you need to make a quick decision or want a simple way to back-up your instincts, this is the perfect app. (iPhone/iPad)
- RotoWire.com Fantasy News Center (Phone and tablet optimized) – One of the best options for fantasy news and updates, this app is designed with intuitive navigation that makes finding specific information incredibly easy. It offers news, analysis, and player tracking. It covers the following fantasy sports: football (NFL, NCAA), basketball (NBA, NCAA), hockey (NHL), baseball (MLB), NASCAR, and soccer. (Android | iPhone/iPad)
- DraftSharks (iPhone only-app) – This app is another great source for quick and accurate news, information and advice that many fantasy players consider a must-have app. It is somewhat of a no-frills app, but that makes it very streamlined and easy to navigate. (iPhone)
Resources for Any NFL fan
- NFL Mobile (Phone and tablet optimized) – This is the official Verizon/NFL app. It includes a wide range of resources including streaming video content, news, blogs, and live scoring. Some features require a Verizon V-Cast subscription and some are available only on specific devices. The new iPad, released this spring, is not supported (Android | iPhone/iPad)
- NFL ’12 (Phone and tablet optimized) – This is the official NFL app and it offers live scores, news, and updates and allows you to track specific teams. Audio-only live commentary is available as an in-app purchase and video on demand content is available on a subscription basis. (Android phone| Android tablet | iPhone/iPad)
- ESPN ScoreCenter (Available as separate phone and tablet apps) – covers a range of sports including football (NFL and NCAA), basketball (NBA, NCAA), hockey (NHL), baseball (MLB), NASCAR, golf, tennis, cricket, and rugby. Coverage is pretty streamlined and focuses on current scoring and ESPN analysis. It also allows you to specify tracking of specific teams. (Android phone | iPhone | iPad)
- WatchESPN (Phone and tablet optimized) – Offers live streaming of ESPN content including feeds from ESPN, ESPN2, ESPN3, and ESPNU. While it’s a superb app, access to it is restricted to specific cable company customers and Verizon broadband customers. (Android | iPhone/iPad)
- ScoreMobile (Phone-only app) – This is a great all around app for sports fans. It provides excellent coverage of football (NFL, NCAA, CFL), hockey (NHL), baseball (MBL), basketball (NBA, NCAA), martial arts, soccer (EPL / Premier League, Series A, La Liga, Bundesliga, UEFA Champions, MLS), NASCAR, Gold, Tennis, and Lacrosse. It offers great features including the ability to track specific teams, players, and events. Although not developed as a fantasy-specific tool, it does offer the ability to create a list of players on your fantasy team, which makes tracking important news fairly easy. (Android | iPhone)